By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Recently, I had one of those eye-opening experiences about aging and skin care which converted me into a devoted fan of sesame oil.
At a dinner party, I sat across from two best friends, both women in their sixties whom I will call Sally and Beth. Sally was our host and has been my friend for years and she invited me to meet her friend Beth from her high school years. As the dinner wore on, I couldn't help but noticed that Beth had almost flawless skin, even at 67. It had a glow that made her look as though she had bathed herself in some extremely expensive face cream from France for years and years. My friend Sally loves the outdoors and her skin shows it. Dry, blotchy and puffy and wrinkled, her face showed the wear and tear of too many cold, harsh winters and too many summer days without sunscreen.
Overcome with curiosity, I pulled Sally aside in the kitchen to ask her the brand of cream Beth used. Her one word answer --- sesame oil. Beth uses sesame oil before and after her shower.
How could sesame oil give a 67 year old Caucasian woman the skin I saw that night, the skin of a 35 year old woman? Is there any scientific proof that sesame oil improves the look of your skin?
Sesame Oil Reverses Sun Damage to Your Skin
In 2006, scientists in India conducted an interesting experiment. They took mice and deliberately damaged their skin by radiating their skin with a 300 watt UV sun lamp ( I know, I know, animal cruelty).
As expected, the skin was severely damaged. At the cellular level scientists can actually measure how much skin damage has occurred by assessing the level of cell oxidative damage. Oxidation is the process that turns apples brown when you leave them out in the air. After radiation under the sun lamp, the soft skin tissue of the mice had experienced noticeable "photoaging".
Then they applied sesamol, the active ingredient in sesame oil to the skin of the mice. At the cellular level, the scientists observed a reversal of much of the skin damage. As the scientists noted " The results from biochemical and histopathological investigations clearly confirm that the sesamol formulation is effective in preventing photodamage (lesions, ulcers and changes in skin integrity) due to chronic UV exposure."
Our bodies contain natural antioxidative defenses which counteract some of the oxidative damage caused by the sun but, as the scientists noted, these defenses can often be overwhelmed by the amount of oxidative stress our skin experiences. As a result, the skin becomes wrinkled, lined and ages prematurely.
Applying sesame oil appears to help to bolster your skin's antioxidant levels.
Sesame Oil Contains Powerful Antioxidant Phenols That Prevent Oxidation
Sesamol in sesame oil is a powerful antioxidant. Studies have found that the enzymatic antioxidant that blocks the most damage to your skin from UV radiation is called "superoxide dismutase".
This was the conclusion, for example, from a 1998 study from Japan's Shinshu University, School of Medicine, in Matsumoto. They called superoxide dismutase "the most important enzymatic antioxidant to protect cells from UVB damage".
Sesamol significantly raises the your skin's levels of superoxide dismutase.
But it does more. Sesamol is effective against a broad range of skin-damaging stress agents including thiobarbituric acid reactive substances while at the same time elevating levels of protective antioxidants such as catalase and glutathione peroxidase, according to a 2005 study from Annamalai University in India.
Sesame Oil Penetrates Below the Surface Levels of Your Skin
To protect your skin from radiation from the sun, sesame oil penetrates the surface layer of your skin and saturates several levels. You can increase the penetration of sesame oil by using a warm wet cloth to open the pores before applying sesame oil.
I use sesame oil as a makeup remover and to moisturize my skin before applying makeup. The sesame oil is there underneath the makeup helping to protect my skin when I go outside.
During the past few months I have noticed a significant change in the way my skin looks. It is simply less lined around the mouth and on my forehead. I also have noticed that the skin on my feet is less lined now that I have been oiling my skin regularly with sesame oil. The smell of sesame oil can be too "nutty" for some but in my experience it dissipates after about 20 minutes.
.r fingertips are active all day, every day. You use them to type, eat, touch, and carry out countless other tasks that you take for granted when your fingertips are flawless. But when they start peeling, it’s worrying and painful.